Like splatter movies? Then thank their inventor, Herschell Gordon Lewis.
HERSCHELL GORDON LEWIS: THE GODFATHER OF GORE (Jimmy Maslon, Frank Henenlotter). 106 minutes. Opens Friday (September 2) at the Projection Booth. See Indie & Rep Film. Rating: NN
Blood Feast, Two Thousand Maniacs, Color Me Blood Red - the ridiculous 1960s grindhouse horrors of Herschell Gordon Lewis hold a special place in the hearts of a certain generation of gorehounds.
Lewis didn't make movies for the art of it; he was purely following the money, jumping into whatever genre was currently popular. He started in commercial filmmaking and moved on to making the non-sexual skin flicks known as "nudie cuties." But when he shifted to horror, his lack of restraint (or taste) led to the invention of the splatter movie.
Directed by Jimmy Maslon and Basket Case's Frank Henenlotter, Herschell Gordon Lewis: The Godfather Of Gore is an affectionate documentary in which Lewis and his surviving collaborators reminisce about his low-rent productions against a backdrop of clips.
Expert witness John Waters perfectly articulates Lewis's approach to horror, explaining that his genius was to film violence with a pornographer's aesthetic: slapdash sets, amateurish actors, bright lights and a leering camera. It's so obviously phony that the visceral excess becomes funny.
Initially enjoyable, the doc grows overindulgent of its subject - especially once Maslon and Henenlotter argue that Lewis became a genuine filmmaker in his later years. Certainly, the scenes from his uncompleted 1967 feature, An Eye For An Eye - about an eye transplant that gives its recipient ESP - suggest little artistic development.